March 28, 2013 / 7:20 PM / 7 years ago

NATO approves Breedlove's nomination as top commander

Commander of U.S. Air Force units in Europe and Africa General Philip Breedlove is seen in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/U.S. Air Force/Handout

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO said on Thursday it had approved the nomination of U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove to be the Western alliance’s top military commander.

Breedlove, whose nomination was endorsed by ambassadors from the 28 NATO allies, will succeed Admiral James Stavridis as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe. His appointment requires U.S. Senate confirmation.

U.S. Marine General John Allen, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan, was originally nominated to the job.

After being caught up but later cleared in a scandal that forced CIA chief David Petraeus to resign, Allen announced last month he would retire and forgo his nomination because of his wife’s health.

Breedlove, who is expected to start his new job this spring, takes over as NATO-led troops in Afghanistan are gradually handing over security responsibility to Afghan forces before most foreign combat troops pull out by the end of 2014.

Breedlove is currently the commander of U.S. Air Force units in Europe and Africa and a former Air Force vice chief of staff. During his long military career, he commanded a fighter squadron, an operations group and three fighter wings, according to a biography on the U.S. Air Force web site.

Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Richard Meares

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